Professor Filius Flitwick is one particular teacher who is very lovable, but he does not receive a lot of screen time or page time. His character is mostly reduced to the occasional comic relief due to his miniature stature- His vocabulary is often in “squeak[s]” (Rowling PS 134), and his “feet dangle from the floor” (POA 203) – but in truth, Flitwick is one of the more pedagogically effective teachers in the school. His approach is to discuss the theory of the spell and provide instruction on the mechanics of the Charms he teaches, then allows the students the space to practice the spell. He steps back and allows the students to experiment, fail, and then ultimately succeed in the application of the spell. He continuously encourages his students to practice their spells in groups and hone their skills independently, rather than with his direct intervention (Dickinson 240). “Now boys, let’s see how you’ve come along” He assigns homework to practice rather than to punish. He’s had one of the longer tenures at Hogwarts, since at least James Potter’s time (Rowling OOTP 642), and his experience with both his subject and his teaching skills make him an effective teacher, especially if one applies Conn’s theory that an effective teacher demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of their discipline (1177). Flitwick also practices the use of praise to motivate his students and keep them invested in their work. While many educators have their own theories on how to use praise in the classroom, Flitwick’s application of praise reflects his desire to both motivate and provide effective feedback to students (1179), which is critical to a growth mindset for students. After Harry’s use of the Summoning Charm during the Triwizard Tournament, Flitwick uses the opportunity not only to praise Harry’s work, but also to use Harry as an effective model for the Charm’s practice and use. In order to be effective, praise should be specific and reflective of the student’s growth, which Flitwick does in this moment and in others (Rowling GOF 341).
What truly sets Professor Flitwick apart from the other teachers is his inherent kindness and creativity in the classroom. According to Pottermore, Professor Flitwick was the source of Hogwarts’ various decorations during celebrations.
His cheery demeanor was also expressed in creativity. At Christmas he delighted in making decorations, even enlisting live fairies into the festive fun. He also didn’t mind letting his students play a few cheeky games in his lesson before the Yule Ball. In fact, no matter what his students were up to, Flitwick always has an appreciation of great skill. For instance, when Fred and George Weasley flounced out of Hogwarts leaving a Portable Swamp in a corridor, Filius Flitwick took care to preserve a small puddle when charged to remove it, just because it was a ‘really good bit of magic’ (Rowling Pottermore.com).
It is of the utmost importance that a teacher, no matter what the skill or the experience, makes a school a welcoming place for students to learn. Decorating a school or letting students play games in the class may seem frivolous on the surface, but it speaks to Flitwick’s ability to read his students and determine what they need in order to be successful. He made a critical judgment, knowing that students would not be able to concentrate on any lesson that he gave before such an exciting event as the Yule Ball, and thus let them enjoy themselves and play games instead. An effective teacher is able to read their students, predict their needs, and meet those needs in the moment, no matter what the schedule or curriculum may dictate.
Conn, Jennifer. “What Can Clinical Teachers Learn from “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone?”.” Medical Education (2002): 1176-1181.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Scholastic, 1997.
–Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2000.
–Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Scholastic, 2003.
–“Unsung Heroes: Filius Flitwick.” Pottermore, http://www.pottermore.com/features/unsung-heroes-filius-flitwick. Accessed 31 March 2018.